Does the ABC’s “The Drum Unleashed” website have editors ? How can nonsense like this get published ?

It would not appear so. I read this completely confused, not even wrong type piece published there by a guy called Uthman Badar, a local representative of the largest global Islamic political party, that stands for a united Islamic world caliphate, among other things. Interesting choice for ABC Unleashed, let’s leave it at that.
I am all for heated debate and discourse about gnu atheism and making rational arguments, supported by logic. But I’m sorry, some dude’s opinion on what constitutes logic or rational thinking does not make for any argument anyone could take seriously, you just do not get to make up your own facts, or to define terms your way and then write some garblewarble based on those personal definitions of universally recognised terms that you just made up.

This piece is written in response to Russell Blackford’s recent article where he argued for rational scrutiny of religion and its claims, when they are used in a political context.

Badar goes off the rails early :

All truth-claims, religious or otherwise, should be subject to rational scrutiny. Rationality in its true broad sense, not in the narrow self-serving sense all too common from atheist circles.

“True broad sense”, as defined by Mr Badar, as we will see. It’s only self-serving when atheists use it.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia, for example, defines atheism as: “the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural.”

This definition makes the conflation, intentionally or ignorantly, between rational evidence and scientific evidence, such that the former is restricted to the latter. In reality scientific (empirical) evidence is one type of rational evidence, but not the only type. Other types include the likes of logic, reports and conceptual analysis.

This is just a silly attempt to fool around with a definition of evidence, that in the end and after Badar is done with it, means nothing more that “any old hearsay”. To prove that which religious people argue for requires not hearsay, but scientific evidence, and a testable prediction in the first place.

Logical syllogisms based on sound premises and a valid structure are entirely rational. The proposition that all men are mortal combined with the observation that Tom is a man establishes rationally and necessarily that Tom is mortal.

What is meant by “rational” here ? Syllogisms in formal logic are valid when the conclusion follows logically from the premises, that’s it. Truth applies to individual propositions within the syllogism, so in the example above, only if the premises are true, is the conclusion also true. So what does this have to do with rationality ?

Numerous unrelated people informing Dick that they’ve been to Canada and that it’s a wonderful place proves rationally even for him (who has never sensorially-perceived the existence of Canada) that it exists.

What nonsense, and completely wrong. Again, all I can think of is that the author is talking of some kind of Bayesian rational evidence, which in the context of asking for evidence for religious claims (remember !) is completely useless. “Dick says Canada is nice” or “”Stone age texts say gods exist” is not evidence for anything. It’s hearsay. Badar is trying to move the goalposts, and to water down the definition of evidence to the point of evidence meaning nothing more than “any hearsay”, to make his silly argument.

Our acceptance of the concept that human beings are the product of a mother and father, allows us to establish, on analysis of this concept and its rational extension, that Harry had a great great grandfather.

In other words, inference. As long as he can get his favourite word “rational” in.

None of these conclusions are scientific, for they do not involve the application of the scientific method. Yet all of them are rational.

A worthless observation, the way he defines rational. And irrelevant for the task of providing evidence for religious claims.

So why do atheists persist in wanting scientific evidence for theist assertions? It seems the convenience of a straw man is appealing. Theists, by and large, readily admit that science cannot prove the existence of God. Not because it requires ‘faith’ (unless you’re an adherent of fideism, an untenable position in our view) but because of the limitations of the scientific method itself.

Err, no. Absolutely not. The difficulty is that religion does not make testable claims. The difficulty is that “god” is undefined, means a million things to a million people, from a vague concept to an interventionist dictator with a beard. If we can’t define what is meant by “god”, we can not test or falsify. That’s why the scientific method fails, and why there can be no evidence for god. Parsimony would dictate that should a 900-foot Jesus appear on Earth tomorrow reading from the Bible, it would be more likely to be an alien trick than proof for the judeo-christian god.
We ask for scientific evidence because religions get privileged treatment in society, have political and social influence, are exempt from paying taxes, and get a say in how we educate our children. All based on unsubstantiated claims. I’d say it’s more than fair to ask where the evidence for those religious claims is. And if none is forthcoming, which it never is, to ask for those religious privileges to be reviewed.

As for rational evidence for the existence of God, that has been furnished, debated, refined and presented centuries ago. Arguments based on logic and conceptual analysis go as far back as Aristotle and Plato, through the Muslim scholastic theologians such as al-Ghazali and al-Razi, and to Western Christian thinkers of medieval Europe such as Aquinas and Bonaventure as well as Enlightenment thinkers such as Leibniz and Clarke.

Again, the author is offering philosophical arguments instead of scientific evidence, and wants to tell us that they have any relevance for the discussion at hand. Well, they don’t. Gnu atheists are meanies, you see, they ask for real evidence, no more fluffing around, we’ve been there and done that for way too long. Theists will not get away with it any longer.

The result, at any rate, is a posturing that is anything but rational. The militant atheist bandwagon – driven by Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett – continues to paint their theist opposition as irrational simpletons who favour superstition and myth over reason and science.

Correct. And Mr Badar is a brilliant example.

If the universe is not eternal and had a beginning, this implies that something came from nothing. Can something come from nothing? An absurd proposition, surely?

Mr Badar, not surprisingly, once again does not know what he is talking about. He might want to watch this to educate himself.

And if the case is simply one of science not having yet answered the key questions about the origins of the universe, then is not a reasonable explanation (if not certain in the atheist view) better than no explanation?

Translation : If we don’t have a scientific explanation for a phenomenon yet, isn’t it better to make some shit up rather than to have no explanation at all ?
I would disagree. So would every rational person on the planet, I suspect.

Why should church be separate from state? Why should religion be singled out for exclusion from influencing public affairs? Religion is after all one worldview from amongst many.

Religion is not a worldview. Religions are organisations. They offer a system of superstitions based on some holy book, and have followers who believe in those myths, more so among the poor, oppressed, and less educated or intelligent parts of the population. The role of the state, as far as I see it, is to make sure that religions and superstitions can be freely practised and adhered to, but also that they don’t interfere with functions of the state, like education or political appointments.

In the rest of his piece, Badar goes off the rails against secularism and rambles incoherently against secular humanism and morality without religion :

We then also have assertions such as the espousal of human reason as a basis for morality. But how can the human mind determine good and evil? It will surely lead to a subjective morality?

The human mind can determine good and evil, I do it every day would you believe, without the threat of eternal hellfire or damnation, or instructions from some ancient text, so do many atheists and humanists, they just seem to somehow know that stoning your daughter to death for adultery, throwing homosexuals in jail, flying planes into buildings and raping or murdering is the wrong thing to do. Mr Badar should try it sometime.

I am astonished that such a terribly confused piece could be published on the ABC.

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